EUGENE, Ore. -- The sixth-ranked Oregon Ducks bounced back from their first loss of the season.
Oregon, which fell from No. 3 in the BCS standings following a 26-20 loss at Stanford last week, returned home to defeat the Utah Utes 44-21 in a Pac-12 game Saturday afternoon at Autzen Stadium.
Quarterback Marcus Mariota re-charged his Heisman Trophy hopes by completing 19 of 26 passes for 288 yards and three touchdowns as the Ducks improved to 9-1 overall and 6-1 in the conference.
"That was solid," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said. "We did not get off to a great start in any phase of the game, but we didn't blink. We played a more complete second half."
Utah gave the Ducks a scare as the Utes trailed 17-14 early in the third quarter, but Oregon closed out the period with three touchdowns.
"We don't get down if we aren't ahead 48-0 at halftime," Mariota said. "This is a tough conference. We get everyone's best game each week. We had to battle through adversity, and we were able to."
Utah put together a long scoring drive to start the second half as the Utes drove 75 yards in just under five minutes before quarterback Adam Schulz ran four yards for a touchdown to cut Oregon's lead to 17-14 with 10:09 left in the third quarter.
Oregon had a quick answer when De'Anthony Thomas ran the kickoff back 86 yards for a touchdown to take a 23-14 lead.
"The play of the game was the kickoff return," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "It swung all the momentum back in their favor and we never recovered. The wheels came off after that. ... They started making plays, and there was a stretch there where we couldn't make a play and the game got out of hand."
The Ducks extended the lead to 30-14 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to tight end John Mundt. Oregon drove 93 yards in less than two minutes for the score.
Oregon struggled to run the ball for most of the game, but Byron Marshall had a 21-yard run late in the third quarter and then scored on the next play with a 17-yard run to put the Ducks ahead 37-14 heading into the fourth quarter. Marshall added a 16-yard touchdown run in the final period to give Oregon a 44-14 lead.
Marshall ran for 66 yards and two touchdowns while Thomas Tyner added 57 yards on the ground as Oregon ran for 135 of its 145 yards in the second half. Bralon Addison had four catches for 67 yards for the Ducks.
Bubba Poole, who scored a late touchdown for the Utes, had 54 yards on 18 carries. Schulz made his first start and completed 13-of-30 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown in place of injured Travis Wilson.
"I've been looking for an opportunity since I've been here," said Schulz, a former walk-on who found out midweek he would be starting against the Ducks. "I always talk about seizing the opportunity and there is no bigger stage really than Oregon at their place. I was ready to go."
Utah fell to 1-6 in conference play, suffering its most-lopsided loss of the season and giving up its most points since 2010.
Oregon scored first after cornerback Terrance Mitchell intercepted Schulz to give the Ducks the ball at Utah's 38-yard line.
Mariota threw a 28-yard pass to tight end Pharaoh Brown and, one play later, Mariota found Thomas for a touchdown. Mariota has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 23 career starts.
The Ducks faced fourth-and-1 from the Utah 13-yard line on their next drive and sent out Matt Wogan for a 31-yard field goal that put Oregon ahead 10-0 late in the first quarter. Wogan was named Oregon's kicker early in the week after splitting time with Alejandro Maldonado for the first nine games.
Utah took nearly five minutes off the clock with a touchdown drive late in the first half. It culminated with a 34-yard touchdown pass from Schulz to tight end Jake Murphy with 2:52 left got the Utes within 10-7.
Oregon needed just 45 seconds to answer as Mariota started the next drive with a 57-yard pass to Bralon Addison that moved the ball to Utah's 7-yard line. Two plays later, Mariota threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Josh Huff to give Oregon a 17-7 lead at halftime.
NOTES: Oregon and Utah have played 27 times, but Saturday was the first time since the Utes joined the Pac-12. Utah became the last Pac-12 team to play at Autzen Stadium. ... Oregon has not lost consecutive games in the same season since 2007. ... Utah QB Travis Wilson, linebacker Jared Norris, and running back Kelvin York did not make the trip to Eugene due to concussions. ... Murphy was expected to miss the season with a broken wrist, but returned after missing five games. ... Utah's Dres Anderson had a career-high 89 yards on four kick returns to go with 37 receiving yards and three rushing yards. ... With two touchdowns, Thomas tied Derek Loville for third in school history with 45 career touchdowns. ... Oregon's Josh Huff had 57 receiving yards to go over 2,000 yards in his career.